NRL player Paul Vaughan has greatly increased his chances of winning The Frownlow Medal after losing his NRL contract and being accused of a sexting scandal.
Vaughan was initially nominated for hosting a house party which resulted in huge fines for him and 12 of his Dragons teammates, and his since been sacked for his third serious off-field incident.
The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player whose off-field demeanour epitomises the values of the modern-day footballer and draws attention to the status of footballers as role models to young Australians. It covers Australia’s four major football codes; the National Rugby League (NRL), Australian Football League (AFL), the A-League (Football) and Rugby Union’s Super Rugby competition. NRL player Shaun Kenny-Dowall won the inaugural medal in 2015, while AFL player Elijah Taylor is the most recent recipient.
Media reports allege that Vaughan was involved in a sexting scandal in 2019. The accusations have not been proven, but sources believe they contributed to Vaughan’s sacking when combined with the latest incident and a COVID breach in 2020 at a local cafe.
Vaughan hosted the house party which resulted in a total of more than $300,000 fines for most of the Dragons first-grade team. He was fined $50,000 and suspended for 8 games, the worst punishment of any player. Club bosses then considered his 2020 COVID breach, and are said to have added these to the alleged sexting scandal.
Vaughan faces tough opposition for The Frownlow Medal this year. Jarryd Hayne is in prison for sexual assault, and a total of 49 footballers have so far been nominated, and its only July. That said, previous Frownlow medallists claimed the prize after being kicked out of the NRL. Ben Barba won in 2019 and Tim Simona in 2017 after repeated offences ruined their football careers.
Vaughan must now attempt to save his sporting career, which will be very difficult. At least he knows he has a very good chance of winning the most prestigious award in Australian sport, The Frownlow Medal. He might also earn the honour of hosting the awards night at his house in Shellharbour.